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In the picturesque and old, worldly landscape of England lives a unique society…
Its story and that of The Barberry Fields is told by the wise head of Twit, the tawny owl, which follows Scruffy, the badger, as he returns to his old habitat. Seemingly born to rebel, Scruffy having previously escaped the Fields and the watchful eye of his disapproving father, Brisket, the last of the Elders. However, with him gone, the Fields requires a leader once more; whereas, Scruffy is as reluctant as many of the animals are to acknowledge his return.
With that indeed the case, his reappearance – which coincides with a terrible change in the atmosphere around the Fields – means Scruffy gets the blame. But as the once ‘trusted’ farmer, Hobgood, turns his shotgun (known in the Fields as the fire-stick) upon his own livestock, things become increasingly perilous in the previously ‘protected’ habitat. Now a new human moves in and instantly stirs the fiendish foxes into a savage struggle for territory, forcing the other creatures out into the open.
With the enemy (the foxes) bedded in and humans making their horrific mark on the landscape; finally, desperation forces Scruffy to lead the other creatures to risk their lives in a brave fight back. Dramatically they decide to draw a fox hunt into the very soul of the Fields to get rid of the horrendous fox population, though seldom do these things go according to plan. As the animals fight for their way of life and freedom, Scruffy is left to question his own beliefs as he faces meeting his Maker.
With the gruff new farmer came a new regime; oddly, a huge pile of muck had appeared right on the edge of the Copse. The mound was heaped right up against a couple of the trees. For some bizarre reason, it became a hub of fascination for the spirited younger animals – the rabbits especially.
‘What the winterland is it?’
‘Well, I would have thought that was obvious. Although, it’s the biggest pile of sh….’
‘LISTENER!’ Shrieked a very disapproving tone behind the young rabbit, cutting him off midsentence.
The young rabbit’s ears pricked to attention, and he drew a slow deep breath in. ‘Yes, ma.’ He said before turning to face the consequences.
‘What have you been told about your mouth?’ She asked.
‘I’m getting better?’
His mother tutted. ‘Quite the opposite.’ It was already very annoying for the adult creatures trying to keep their young away from the manure. But kittens and juveniles were enjoying frolicking around the apparently, stinking – occasionally fresh, steaming – pile.
Shooing kittens away became a continual bore for the rabbits. It was the squirrels that had good cause to keep their young far from it. With several youngsters leaping branches above the mound; one called, Growler the bravest, or perhaps the silliest of the squirrels couldn’t help showing off. Trying to leap for branches further and further away, before soon he came a cropper. Their game was all based on potentially falling, but not getting hurt by landing on hard ground.
Well, Growler was of course first to fall. His landing fortunately was soft, as the juveniles had expected. However, it was even softer and fresher than they had envisaged. After disappearing from sight, Growler reappeared with a splurge! ‘EW…’ cried the other juveniles collectively. ‘Growler, you stink!’ The silly little dare-devil was hardly recognisable. His red fur could no longer be seen beneath his new dung outer coat.